Church destroyed by tornado rebuilt & debt free - - Jackson, MS

Church destroyed by tornado rebuilt & debt free

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YAZOO CITY, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Last April an EF-4 tornado ripped through Yazoo City killing  four people, injuring dozens and leveling homes and buildings.

Hillcrest Baptist Church, on a road that runs along Highway 49, was one of the fallen structures.

Sunday the congregation and community celebrated its rebirth.

On a hill entering Yazoo City sits Hillcrest Baptist Church, a fitting name for the rebuilt worship center which moved to a higher level after being destroyed by a tornado.

Inside worshippers thanked God and celebrated the new $1.5 million dollar sanctuary and fellowship hall.

Dedication services allowed this congregation and community to come together and offer praise.

"Reminisce with us just a bit of where we were and how far we've come and where we are today," church minister Pastor Rayburn Freeman told the audience of more than 125 people.

A slide show documented Hillcrest's recovery from two tragedies, a fire in 1999 and the April 24, 2010 tornado.

Dale Thrasher stood at the podium during the service and recalled that it was 18 months 23 days and four hours ago that he was inside the building and sought shelter under a communion table.

"The windows started blowing out and all the chairs slid up to the front against the communion table. The building exploded. I bowed my head and I said three words 'Lord Save Me', and he did," said Thrasher.

"My Dad died in April, the day of the tornado," said Mona Mazeres who was among the worshippers attending the special services.

Her father, Jim Williams, was a longtime member of Hillcrest.

The 51-year-old Mazeres came to dedication to remember her father and rejoice with the church.

The Yazoo City resident said that during the church's construction she attended Hillcrest services with her mother at nearby St. John's United Methodist Church.

"He didn't die in the actual tornado. He was being transferred to Hospice that day, and he lasted at Hospice an hour," said Mazeres.

The congregation also counts it a miracle that the church has been rebuilt, and they are debt free.

"We got letters and donations from all over America, and we got an anonymous donation from Australia. They sent cash in the mail, which was real unusual," added Thrasher, who also served as project manager during the rebuilding process.

The first church services in the new sanctuary were held last Sunday.

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